by guest columnist Ella Keng
Performance artist Milo Moire has taken to the streets of Cologne to protest against what appears to be a growing trend of orchestrated sexual assaults against European women, perpetrated by ‘young men of north African or Arab origin’.
This first became noticeable on New Year’s Eve, when hundreds (!!!!) of young women -dressed, for winter- were assaulted and two raped in Germany, something that has led today to the sacking of Cologne’s police chief.
To be fair to the gentleman in question, it’s difficult how to know how to prepare for something like this, with police on an already exceptionally busy night for them being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of complaints. If not raped or sexually assaulted, fireworks were placed in the hood of one woman’s coat, and she has been left with permanent scars.
You can read the initial reports of this co-ordinated attack (from the Guardian) here, with further reports on the matter (from the BBC) here, here and here. It is being reported that similar instances occurred in Austria, with the police covering it up.
Such is the racial tension in Europe that it seems entirely possible that is true; that police did cover it up for fear that it would lead to a backlash against ‘young men of north African or Arab origin’.
We have a pro-liberal press in Europe, in the main, even if much of it is actually right of centre in its political views. But I find it rather disturbing that rather than give us ‘the facts’, as they might be, they would seek to actively bury an anti-women story, to turn a blind eye to the systematic assault, rape and maiming of...let’s say it out loud, white European women. We need to be careful about claims that one assailant told his victim ‘I am a Syrian refugee. Treat me kindly. Mrs. Merkel invited me’. You don’t arrive from Syria and have that command of German in the course of a sexual assault in just a few months, do you? I smell a rat in that element of it. However, repeated reports to police that ‘he was north African or Arab’ are clearly saying that the assailants weren’t and aren’t European.
It is being reported that fifteen women in Kalmar, Sweden have reported being groped, amidst fears of orchestrated attacks on a European-wide scale, with women being advised not to go out at night alone. Kalmar, I’ve checked the statistics, is a town of 36,000 inhabitants. Not large, in other words. Sweden offered immigrants free bus passes so they wouldn’t feel so isolated in the asylum centre of Helgesbo, 40kms away. Good call! Now they use the free bus services to move to an fro places like Kalmar to grope Swedish women.
One needs to be careful with how one analyses Sweden as ‘the rape capital of Europe’ or ‘the second placed rape location in the world only to Lesotho’ because Sweden’s laws are framed in such a way that defines rape on a much wider range than other countries. This is to be welcomed, of course. I’m in favour of broadening the definition of rape as widely as possible, with the convict to serve a lengthy term of imprisonment as a rapist (and his records thereafter to reflect his past as a rapist, never to be expunged from employment searches).
But it’s clear that an alien ‘north African or Arab culture’ either needs to learn European values, pretty damned quickly, or to be dropped back in their homeland. Preferably from a plane circling at 38,000 feet.
We -Europe- also need to be getting our values over to immigrants on or prior to arrival. It’s not enough to say ‘well, you may have this macho, sexist culture in the Middle East, but please don’t do it again‘. Anyone from the UK, for example, who rapes in the US (or vice versa, or indeed amongst any ‘western democracies’ will usually find that their jail sentence concludes with deportation. Let’s get that message over to immigrants. Anyone who is convicted of any offence (other than minor traffic offences) is going to find themselves, and their extended family, on the first plane back to to Raqqah or whatever other god-forsaken hole they emerged from. Our western democracies are often critical of our governments’ tax-raising powers. Well, stick another hundred quid on my tax each year to fund a repatriation airline service for immigrants who offend our laws, from those who commit burglary to those who rape. I won’t say a peep.
‘Against sexism, against racism’
People in Europe are generally open to the idea of taking a humanitarian approach to refugees. Britain took in many Asian refugees from Uganda when they fled from Idi Amin’s regime in the 1970s. They integrated, maintained their culture, enriched our lives and contributed to Britain while regarding themselves as Britons.
Today, we’d look on that as the right thing to do. Of course, there were dissenting voices. One MP, Enoch Powell, will forever be recorded in history for, above all else, suggesting it would lead to ‘rivers of blood’ with race riots. He was wrong. Those voicing concerns about the current wave of immigrants will be wrong too. But if there is to be orchestrated attacks, a train of thought that sexual assault is ‘OK’, then that attitude, more than anything else, will harden people’s attitudes against refugees.
If you are going to research further, a word of warning. There are a lot of racist websites out there with their own agenda for pushing the story. Clearly, we can read from the mainstream, ‘state’ broadcasters and establishment newspapers that this story remains in flux. And we can find that Deutsche Welle, a respected German media outlet, has already outlined a sense of ‘well, this was a problem among German men, so don’t lay it all on the immigrants’. If you’re going to research, properly research, don’t just hang your opinions on just one ‘news’ outlet.
What I will say, in conclusion, to all men of ‘north African or Arab appearance’ or, indeed, indigenous Europeans, is to mark Milo’s words ‘Respect us. We are not fair game even when we are naked’. You do not need to surf around the internet for long before you can declare that there are a lot of men of ‘white, westernised appearance’ who are just as guilty of adopting this ‘north African or Arab’ mentality. Any porn site will pretty much determine that to many users, we’re ‘sluts’, we’re ‘bitches’ and we’re ‘ho’s’.
Trine adds: This was a story I wanted to outline as early as January 2nd, as details of these orchestrated attacks emerged. However, I don’t regard myself as a political animal, particularly in the arena of feminist politics, and so I asked Ella if she would contribute something, as many readers will know her previous political/feminist/body-positive commentaries have been excellent pieces of blogging. Happily, despite saying ‘no, no, no…I want to stop blogging’, she’s now stepped forward twice, and I’m grateful for her input and words.